Skip to main content

Great expectations for U.S. offshore wind farms and SOVs

In April 2021, President Joe Biden promised significant support for green energy in the United States. Offshore wind farms, a more developed market in Europe, but hardly established in the U.S., will be a growth stimulating opportunity in all those industries that create the infrastructure and installations and the myriad vessels that serve them. One exciting proposal will be a huge new project off the coast of New Jersey.

“Creating a stable policy platform for offshore wind development and facilitating the first wave of significant projects will provide certainty for the industry," said Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association"Now is the time to seize on this once-in-a-generation opportunity."

Against this background of newfound optimism, Zenitel sees significant opportunities for its state-of-the-art communications systems, both on the wind farms during construction, during operations and maintenance and especially on the service operations vessels (SOVs). The market for the latter is growing rapidly and Zenitel is ideally positioned to deliver complex and intelligent communications systems consisting of public address and general alarm (PAGA), private automatic branch exchange (PABX), marine approved CCTV systems, internet protocol (IP) TV for entertainment and information and two-way radio solutions, all with full IP interface to link offshore wind installations, shore stations and the SOVs that attend them. 

In addition, because SOVs are often on station for prolonged periods, even years at a time, supporting the maintenance of the turbines, the next generation of vessels will be built with intelligent systems, eventually leading to fully autonomous vessels. If there are five levels to a fully autonomous vessel, ship designers estimate they are now at level three. Regular tasks will see SOVs navigating through entire wind farms on a regular rotation, visiting each turbine, so repetitive tasks can be designated to autonomous systems. Zenitel’s future-proof communications installations will be ready to interface with them at every stage of development.

Offshore wind and SOV

Crew comfort and safety will be paramount to the successful operations of both wind farms and SOVs and communications between offshore and onshore installations. Zenitel not only delivers the products, but is also gaining the expertise to deliver complete system solutions connecting vessels, turbines and onshore operation centers with their IP based communication solutions. Ranging from PAGA and PABX for critical communication, CCTV products and interface for safety and early detection, two-way radio integration and products for efficient operation to entertainment and information systems via IP networking to enhance crew comfort. 

"Typically these days we see RFQ’s (request for quotation) with much more complex specifications for the SOV market. In the United States, Zenitel is not only the preferred vendor, but one of the very few companies able to deliver these critical communication packages with a seamless interface between Zenitel’s own products and third party products" says Dan Padula, Regional Sales Manager for Maritime Sales North America.

The US Department of Energy has announced a preliminary $3 billion in loans available to offshore wind and transmission developers and suppliers. Other agencies are offering millions more, but still more will needed over time if the US government is to meet its ambition targets to create 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 110 gigawatts by 2050. At the moment the entire offshore wind fleet comprises five turbines off Rhode Island and two turbines off Virginia, with a total capacity of only 42 megawatts.
There’s a long way to go, but the whole offshore wind industry—from construction, to installation, to maintenance and support and all the many suppliers of everything in between—have great expectations for the future. Zenitel plans to be there at every step of this exciting journey.